Jackson Co. (WXOW) — A partnership between nonprofit Can Do Canines and the Jackson County Correctional Institution is giving inmates the opportunity to train service dogs.
The partnership is the second Can Do Canines has with a Wisconsin prison.
“We’ve been trying to find a canine program for the past two years and for one reason or another it just hasn’t worked out,” Warden Lizzie Tegels said. “We’re so happy to be able to offer this to our inmates now and I think it will give them a new sense of purpose.”
On Tuesday, ten puppies were delivered to the prison and were given to their new owners, who happen to be inmates. One of those inmates is Robert Coenen, who met his new puppy, Pippa.
“We don’t get a lot of opportunity to do anything beneficial for anybody else so being able to help someone and having that help you at the same time is going to be a good thing,” he said.
Each dog is paired with three inmates, who trade off daily duties and share in the training. Each week, the inmates attend a two-hour training lesson, where they learn new commands they’re able to implement with their dogs throughout the week.
Volunteer foster homes take the dogs on weekends to help them get acclimated to life outside of prison walls.
“It’s not something I expected being able to do coming to prison,” Coenen said. “To actually accomplish something in here will be a good feeling.”
After 12 months, the dogs will leave the prison and go through a few months of additional training. Then, they’ll be placed with those who need them.
Currently, Can-Do-Canines has 170 people on its waiting list for service dogs.